Church”goer” or Church”member”

Posted: March 3, 2012 in Change, Christianity, Growth, Thoughts
Tags: , , , , ,

I actually started thinking about this topic on Wednesday evening before our mid-week service.  I don’t know exactly WHY it popped into my head, but my thought is that perhaps it was a “God thing”.  So, here I am on a Saturday morning, contemplating this topic, and wondering if I am truly going to be able to put what is in my head, into the confines of a few words.

So, on Wednesday evening, as I’m sitting in my seat waiting for the mid-week service to start, this thought pops into my head, “Am I a church ‘goer’ or a church ‘member’?”  Well, that got my attention, first, because I was sitting in church, and secondly because it was so out of the blue.  As I continued to sit there, I contemplated what that question could mean. My first thought was, “Of course, I am a church member!  I joined this church in 2009, and I’ve been a member of some church most of my life!”  And then, I thought about it some more, and realized, being a church member is more than saying to the church, I want to be a member.

Allow me to explain.  The dictionary defines “goer” as follows:

a person who attends something regularly (From The Free Dictionary)

A church “goer” is someone who regularly attends church.  She shows up to services (could be one a week or all available), listens to the sermons, and then goes home to live out her life.  This person goes through the motions.  She might even read the Bible daily and spend quiet time with the Lord.  And those are all good things right?  But a church “goer” just attends.  She doesn’t get deeply involved.  She doesn’t “get her hands dirty.”  She goes, she listens, and then she leaves and goes about her life, as always.

A member is defined as follows:

a person, animal, plant, group, etc., that is part of a society, party, community, taxon, or other body. (From Dictionary.com)

Another definition is as follows:

S: (n) memberfellow member (one of the persons who compose a social group (especially individuals who have joined and participate in a group organization)) “only members will be admitted”; “a member of the faculty”; “she was introduced to all the members of his family” (from WordNet Web – Princeton)

“Member” can also be considered a part of the body – specifically an EXTERNAL body part.  I find this interesting, as Romans 12 defines the church as members of one body:

4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans, 12:4-5, NASB)

Members have a function.  Members do not just go, sit in a seat and listen while someone talks and then go home and live their own lives.  Members DO something.  They’re involved.  They’re a small part of a whole body.  According to the verses above, if we are Christians, we are many members of one body, and we each should be doing something.  But so very often, what I see in myself and others, is a passivity that says, “Someone else will do it.  I don’t have to get involved.  I can just sit here and listen and everything will get taken care of by someone else.”

For whatever reason, be it fear or laziness or a general lack of caring, many of us just sit.  We attend, but we don’t participate.  I am not talking about the participation of standing in front of your seat and singing a song or praying along as the pastor (or whomever) prays.  I am talking about the participation of getting up, going OUT and getting our hands dirty.  I mean going into the community and serving.  I mean taking the time to listen to someone else as they spill their heart out and their tears flow freely down their face.  I mean teaching others.  I mean standing beside a dirty, homeless person and giving them a hug.  I mean doing SOMETHING besides sitting in our seats and watching as a few do the work that the MANY are supposed to participate in.

This is not easy for me to write because I have seen myself as this church “goer” who watches others do the work, but doesn’t get involved herself.  I have listened as volunteers are requested and made excuses as to why I couldn’t be there, instead of finding a way to take part.  I have been that church”goer” instead of the church”member”.  I have watched while others served.  I have sat in my seat and longed to get involved, but allowed fear to keep me from taking the step forward.  I have watched while others went to other countries to help indigent communities – longing to go – but too afraid to try.  I want to be a church”member” – not just in name, but in practice.

It’s time to stop making excuses, and it’s time for me to step out.  I am scared – and I don’t know if I can do it right this very second.  But my prayer from this point forward is “Lord help me to be a member.  Help me to participate.  Give me the courage to get my hands dirty.”

What about you?  Are you a church”goer” or a church”member”?  Will you join me in the attempt to step out and be a member?

Until Next Time,

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